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Greece is once again in the grip of strikes this week

05 November 2012 / 16:11:59  GRReporter
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Victoria Mindova

Greece is once again in the grip of trade union strikes, which include workers from almost all sectors of the economy. On Monday, Athens woke up to no underground, urban electric trains, trams and taxis. In addition to public transport staff, journalists in Greece have announced a 24-hour strike as they continue to resist the merger of their health insurance fund and the general body of the National Organisation for Health Care Provision. The change in the law was rejected by a vote last week but on Monday, the government is making a second attempt to introduce the reform.

Despite the great resistance of trade union forces of journalists in Greece, not everyone in the sector agrees with the strike. GRReporter had the opportunity to talk to some of the Greek journalists who are of different opinion from that imposed by the unionists.

"When society is subjected to severe tests, we cannot ask for special treatment for us. In other words, we cannot insist on keeping our own privileges when the majority of the public has to give up many of their rights," said the representative of the Greek journalist community, who wished to remain anonymous.

The processes of public sector reforms in Greece include the consolidation of the various social security funds in one organization. Smaller health insurance funds have already been merged into the general system, but some funds have not yet been consolidated because of their great influence in the social and political life of the country. Lawyers, bank employees, notaries, engineers and journalists, of course, have strong lobbies in the political circles.

The journalist, who spoke to our media, quoted George Orwell’s "Animal Farm" to show the electoral position of many of his colleagues at this difficult moment for Greece. "All are equal but some are more equal than others," he said in relation to the ongoing strike. "You understand that if we want to give voice to the people who are currently bearing the burdens of the crisis, we must somehow share them." He explained that the problem is not only today’s response to reforms but also how Greece has found itself in this position.

"Maybe when we had to talk we did not do it. Now, the crisis is making us different, driving us to look at things differently. Changes are necessary, unless there is a proposal providing an alternative." Journalists, who do not share the firm position of trade unionists, believe that when we want politicians and government leaders to take responsibility for their actions, we must all follow the same example.

On Tuesday, the journalists' strike will be cancelled but underground transport employees will continue to strike along with their colleagues from trolley and bus lines. The protest will also involve workers in the railways, intercity train, port staff, air traffic controllers (from 10 am to 1 pm), tax workers, teachers, university teachers, municipal workers, hospital staff, bank employees, the staff of the Greek postal service and the Public Power Corporation (DEI).

At 11 am on Tuesday, the trade union of private sector employees (GSEE) and the trade union of public workers (ADEDY) will hold a protest meeting in central Athens against the vote of the fiscal adjustment measures. The same will happen again on Wednesday, but at 6 pm.

Constant strikes in Athens are a serious problem for the life of the capital. Moving on weekdays, when unions are active hampers the daily lives of ordinary citizens who often complain. "At the beginning of this month I bought a card for the public transport, which costs 45 euro. Now, I cannot use it, because none of the transport facilities is running. Who will compensate me," asks a resident of the capital, aged 24, who is one of the many people dissatisfied with the constant strikes of public transport employees.

She explains that she is not against the right of workers to fight for their demands, but that does not mean that they should hamper the existence of others. "Unionists remain an introverted mass that does not explain in detail to the public why they fight and for what. They do not have the support of society and their protests are largely pointless," the girl said.

"We all have problems today. Not only public workers and journalists," a man, aged 39, who has been unemployed for the past two years, says. "People who are on strike are those who have felt the true burdens of the crisis the least. They do not want their salaries cut but they do not appreciate the fact that they have a job. They want to keep the restrictions in various sectors of the economy, but they do not care that this makes it difficult for young and talented people to demonstrate their abilities."

Tags: SocietyNewsStrikeJournalistsGreeceCrisis
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